CAP-CHAT, Que. — Tragedy struck a small town on Quebec's Gaspe Peninsula on Sunday, where a 37-year-old woman and her young twins died following an early morning fire.
Quebec provincial police said the woman and her two one-year-old children were pronounced dead in hospital after the fire broke out in a residential building in this community almost 500 kilometres northeast of Quebec City.
Emergency services were called to the fire at about 4 a.m. Sunday.
Police spokeswoman Helene Nepton said there was a brief evacuation involving a dozen neighbours and none were injured.
The major crimes unit is investigating the circumstances surrounding the fire. A police spokesperson said they were still on site as of late Sunday afternoon.
The head of the town's fire brigade said about 20 of his men were on site before dawn.
"We saw the building was under pressure, there was a lot of smoke in the inside and flames coming out the back," Carol Dugas said.
"We found a lifeless body and the two children after that."
Dugas said the firefighters were shaken by the discovery and that psychological support was offered to them.
He said they didn't find any smoke detectors inside the building, which Dugas said is owned by the city.
The mayor of the town of 2,500 said he knew the victim "by sight."
"We sometimes think these things only happen somewhere else," Judes Landry told The Canadian Press in a phone interview.
"It's always said when it happens in a small community like ours. Everyone knows each other."
Autopsies on the victims will be performed in the coming days.
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